By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] The Constitutional Court of Uganda is set to hear two cases regarding the rights of workers in the informal economy.
The two petitions, No. 24 and 25 of 2022 was filed by Voices for Labour, Platform for Vendors in Uganda (PLAVU), the Uganda Market and Allied Employees Union and Uganda Artisans and General Workers Union in September 2022.
Robinah Kagoye the Executive Director Voices for Labour revealed that the first case challenges the exclusion of workers in the informal economy from coverage under labour legislation in Uganda. “While the Ugandan Constitution guarantees the rights to freedom of association, to equality and non-discrimination and safe, satisfactory and healthy working conditions to everyone, labour legislation only applies to “employees” said Kagoye below.
Petition No. 25 seeks to challenge the forcible eviction of street vendors from Kampala City in January 2022, and the underlying legal framework governing street vending in Kampala.
Background To The Suit
In December 2021, the then Kampala Resident City Commissioner Hud Hussein directed vendors to peacefully vacate the streets and take up space in city markets before they are forced out. Hud issued another warning on 11th January 2022 before KCCA, the police and the army, took a stiff action in a robust operation to rid streets of vendors.
The informal sector workers, who earn through selling merchandise laid on the tarmac and hawkers were forced off Kampala streets, and left with no avenues for earning.
Through the Trading License Act, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is supposed to issue Trading Licenses to vendors. Though KCCA has tried to gazette certain streets in Kampala for vendors and hawkers to sell their merchandise, on particular days of the week, the petition seeks to have a permanent law in place that protects the rights of the informal workers.
The petition notes that following the eviction from Kampala streets, and later across the entire country, scores of street vendors and hawkers’ source of livelihood to provide for their families has been greatly affected.
Amicus Curiae Application Filed
In a related development, an amicus curiae application has been filed by a third party to support the petition. Amicus curiae is a Latin one (friend of the court), a person, or organization that gives advice to a court of law, or who assists the court by furnishing information regarding questions of law or fact in a case in which they are directly involved.
The amicus curiae application includes draft briefs in both cases. These drafts detail the current status of the rights of informal workers under international human rights law, international labour law, and African regional human rights law, as well as identifying examples from comparative national jurisprudence and practice.
The draft brief in Petition No. 24 mentions the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining; equality and non-discrimination; safe, healthy and satisfactory working conditions.
While the draft brief in Petition No. 25, seeks to clarify regarding the rights to work; property; non-discrimination and equality; personal security and freedom from arbitrary deprivations of liberty.